McLaren didn’t exactly have their best qualifying in the Bahrain Grand Prix for the 2022 edition of F1. This was their worst qualifying performance since the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix when they failed to qualify for Q3 in the qualifying session. McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo finished at P18 in the session with British teammate Lando Norris finishing at P13.
Following a tremendously positive first pre-season test in Barcelona, where it seemed that the team could be on pace with Ferrari, the performance on the field has come as a shock. A number of issues, according to technical director James Key, have come into the equation, with the car proving to be less well adapted to low-speed corners. “Barcelona was quite encouraging for us, and I believe it was a track that appealed to our current strengths,” he stated.
“I’m afraid I have to admit that we’re both startled. It’s been a difficult weekend for us, and we clearly came in on the back foot, having failed to test effectively the week before due to brake difficulties that have surfaced.” The brake issues, which hampered McLaren’s performance in the Bahrain test, had major knock-on effects, according to Key, as the team was unable to complete the schedule as envisaged. “We knew we were a little tight on front brake temperatures, but they suddenly shot up to a level we hadn’t expected. To correct that, it needed a lot of study and patience,” he added.
🗣️ | McLaren fans, look away now:
'With Ricciardo P18 and Norris P13, this marks the first time McLaren has failed to get a car into Q3 since the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.'
— The Race (@wearetherace) March 19, 2022
What really caused McLaren’s poor performance in Bahrain qualifying?
Key highlighted how the MCL36s were stuck in the garage during testing in order to tackle with the temperature issues arising while the car runs reliably. On a positive note, he did mention being pleased about getting some laps and having some reliability runs with the MCL36. However, both Ricciardo and Norris were left with no time to get an actual feel of the car and its workings.
Although being aware of the reasons that have hampered the team, Key confirmed that the McLaren MCL36 lacks grip. Key further added how the car’s maximum potential is still unknown and that they can possibly reap it. “The car itself, the platform is working well. Mechanically, it’s fine. Aerodynamically, it does what it’s supposed to do. The drivers aren’t finding the extremes we had in past years with different rates of balance and difficulty. So it’s a lot more consistent in that respect.”
He stressed on McLaren’s need for more grip aerodynamically. This certain aspect to the MCL36 worked well for the Woking-based racing team in the Barcelona phase of testing.